Young batter hit by pitch in Colonie suffers rare heart stoppage, but quick response makes the difference

Teamwork proves vital as Little Leaguer revived

Young batter hit by pitch in Colonie suffers rare heart stoppage, but quick response makes the difference
By Pete Iorizzo
Updated 09:43 p.m., Tuesday, April 17, 2012

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The heart of an 11-year-old Little League baseball player started beating again Monday evening moments after he was hit by a pitch and nearly died at home plate.
The boy was batting in a Colonie Little League game at Cook Park when he was struck by a pitch and crumpled to the dirt. The pitch had hit him in the chest and stopped his heart.
A coach and police officer performed CPR before a defibrillator brought the boy back to life. He was recovering Tuesday at Albany Medical Center, police and coaches said.
“This was about everyone working together as a team,” said Frank Prevratil, the president of Colonie Little League.
Prevratil, who also was the coach of the other team, was the first to begin CPR.
“There was no panic from anyone, no hysteria,” Prevratil said. “Everyone did exactly what they were supposed to do.”
Police and Colonie Little League officials declined to release the boy’s name.
The boy may have suffered a condition called commotio cordis, which occurs when there is a blow to the heart at precisely the right fraction of a second to disrupt the organ’s electric rhythms.
About 65 percent of commotio cordis victims die, though it accounts for only three or four deaths nationally each year, said Peter Berry, deputy chief of the Colonie EMS department.
“In my 23 years in the department, this is the first call for of this specific type of incident that I can recall,” Berry said.
The call came into Colonie EMS dispatchers at 6:37 p.m. Monday, seconds after the boy had been hit, Berry said.
The boy’s coach, Mike Martin, bolted from the dugout and realized the boy was having trouble breathing, Prevratil said.
Martin declined comment, other than to say the boy was doing well Tuesday.
When Prevratil saw the boy’s coach needed further assistance, he rushed from his own dugout. On his way to home plate, he heard someone from the stands shout, “Call 911!”
While Martin and Prevratil tended to the boy, he slipped out of consciousness. That’s when Prevratil began CPR.
He performed chest compressions for only about 30 seconds before Colonie police officer Brian Curran arrived on the scene, at 6:42 p.m., Colonie Police Lt. Robert Winn said.
Colonie Police declined to make Curran available for comment.
Curran took over CPR, but it was only two minutes before the EMT team reached the boy with a defibrillator.
His heart restarted while he still was lying in the batter’s box, Prevratil said, and he was taken away by ambulance.
By that time, all the other players had been moved to another field, where they couldn’t see what was happening at home plate.
“It was amazing to see everyone working so calmly,” Prevratil said. “Everyone did what they were trained to do.”
The umbrella Little League organization mandates that at least one coach of every team participate in a two-hour safety course, which covers everything from first aid to life-threatening incidents.
“I’m very proud of that training and the way it worked,” Prevratil said.
In 2000, commotio cordis was responsible for the death of a 14-year-old lacrosse player from Long Island named Louis Acompora.
His death led to what is now called, “Louis’s Law,” which mandates all New York State public schools have defibrillators available at sporting events. But the law does not govern recreational leagues.
piorizzo@timesunion.com * 518-454-5425 * @PeteIorizzo

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